Do Aux Cords Really Affect Sound Quality?

Auxiliary cable jacks are by far the most prevalent format for playing audio directly from a player via your favorite speakers. Auxiliary connections enable an extensive range of devices to link to a single quasi-universal jack. However, there’s debate about whether the aux cord you pick impacts the sound quality.

There’s no evidence that aux cords affect sound quality when compared to a similar aux cable. However, an aux cord will impact audio quality when using a longer wire or a Bluetooth connection. When selecting an aux cable, prioritize its design and durability over sound quality comparisons.

This article aims to address the effect that aux cords have on the quality of a recording. I’ll also compare the sound quality of auxiliary cables and Bluetooth connections. Finally, I’ll address the more critical considerations to take into account when selecting an auxiliary cable.

High-quality AUX cord

How Do Aux Cords Affect Sound Quality?

There are no audible deviations detectable by the human ear at the standard length for an aux cord. However, if you have a very long wire, the sound quality can suffer.

For instance, an aux cable with a diameter of 10 AWG but a length greater than 12 ft. (3.657 m.) can exhibit audible distortion, which is attributed to the enhanced electrical resistance caused by the size of the cable.

The length and thickness of the cable have an impact on the electrical resistance. As a result, a lengthy, thin auxiliary line can adversely affect your audio experience.

It’s worth noting that a thicker aux wire would provide less resistance regardless of length, preserving the sound quality. 

How Does Using an Aux Cord Compare to a Bluetooth Connection?

Bluetooth communication is commonly regarded as being inferior to wired audio interfaces such as aux cables. This is because transmitting audio through Bluetooth requires compressing and decompressing the digital signal. This conversion degrades audio fidelity.

This process contrasts entirely analog aux connections. As a result, there’s almost no distortion, making an aux link have superior audio fidelity over Bluetooth.

What Impacts the Sound From Your Wire?

The primary benefit of an aux cable is its versatility. And although most versions are identical, some do differ. And these distinctions can have an impact on the audio you hear. 

Most people won’t be able to hear the differences, but this information is essential for audiophiles.

These features can change the sound quality: 

Conductive Materials

Silver is the most conductive metal available and is hence utilized in aux cables. It has a lower resistivity than copper, implying that a thinner silver wire has the same resistance as a copper equivalent.

However, silver is costly, and a copper wire with the same resistance costs far less.

Copper is the second most excellent conductor of all metals, which is why it’s the most often used material in cable manufacturing. But copper has poor resistance. 

Aluminum is another often used material. It has much lower conductivity and is often used in low-quality audio cables.

Both copper and aluminum oxidize, but copper oxides are conductive, while aluminum oxides are insulating. And conductivity is critical when it comes to sound quality.

Connectors

Auxiliary cables have two distinct specifications. The first is the TRS variant which is unbalanced.

The upper jack plug is a TS jack

The black band that separates them acts as an insulator, preventing the jack’s two halves from shorting together.

When a device requires a TRS cable, it needs the third wire and will often fail to function correctly if a TS cable is used.

The balanced mono TRS is the second type:

  • Tip: Positive sound signal
  • Ring: Negative audio signal
  • Sleeve: Common ground connection

In terms of sound efficiency, the only component of the connector that matters is the solder point. If what binds the metals degrades, you’re sure to hear unpleasant effects on your sound.

Shielding

Aspects of audio quality include reducing noise picked up by the conductor between sources. For this reason, the aux cable is shielded.

Unbalanced cables are more vulnerable to picking up excessive noise since the ground wire serves as an antenna, rendering them more susceptible to distortion. 

Vendors advocate braided shielding in these cables because the braid covers the conductor, eliminating noise that might degrade the pitch.

Occasionally referred to as a spiral-wrapped shield, a serve shield is similar in design to a braided shield and may be used in its place. Serve shield cables are more flexible thus more suited for live performances.

How To Choose a Good Aux Cable

The primary benefit of an aux cable is its versatility. Although most aux wires on the market are similar, there are several differences, and the primary consideration when selecting a cable is its length.

The optimal cable length is what you require to link your source to your speaker without the possibility of unintentional removal or damage. If you’re worried about noise interference, go for a thicker cable but ensure that it’s compatible with your sound system.

While the materials used to make an aux cable have a marginal impact on tone, they serve two purposes:

  • Increasing longevity.
  • Minimizing signal interferences.

As a customer, the following are several things to watch for:

  • Look for gold-plated connectors.
  • Choose cables with a longer bend radius and lifespan. This value indicates the number of times a chord may be twisted without revealing the wiring underneath and therefore sacrificing its quality.
  • Take note that braided cables are more durable than plastic cables, but plastic variants are more flexible.
  • Take the warranty into consideration. Numerous businesses have a lifetime guarantee on their products.

How To Avoid Audio Distortion When Using a Long Aux Cable

If you still have a long aux cord and are having audio interference, typical workarounds include purchasing a thicker wire or cables made of premium copper. 

Additionally, depending on the compatibility of your unit, you can purchase XLR or balanced cables. These wires can stretch to about 100 feet (30.48 m.) with no distortion.

You can also purchase a power amplifier, which boosts the magnitude of an input signal, such as one from an auxiliary connection.

Another possibility is to change the output impedance of your pre-amplifier. To effectively accomplish this, you must experiment with the audio before discovering a tone that you enjoy.

What Are Alternative Methods for Resolving Audio Distortion When Using an Aux Cable?

If you regularly encounter audio distortion while using your aux cable, the following can help:

  • Reboot the connected devices.
  • Use another aux cable, as the current one may be faulty.
  • Ascertain that both the source unit and the speaker are securely linked.
  • Navigate to the connected device’s sound settings and disable audio compression or set it to Flat.
  • Reduce the volume on the attached device. When a device’s volume is at its limit, it can emit an excessively strong signal. This may result in low audio quality and distortion from your speaker system.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for an aux cable, focus on the materials used to build the wire rather than whether it improves the tone.

Your best bet is to aim for a high-quality copper auxiliary cable with a length that is sufficient for a secure connection.

Additionally, if you have audio interference, your aux cable is unlikely to be the source of the problem unless it’s visibly damaged. 

To assist you in determining what could be triggering the distortion other than your aux cable, Axiom Audio has created the following video: